With students often cycling through Ames every four years, one local entrepreneur is launching an art project around wearable art while seeking a way to keep students from leaving the art community in Ames.
Kevin Poster's Eleventh Floor Clothing is offering a new way for artists to showcase their talent.
Poster has been living in Ames for the last five years. Initially running track for Iowa State and studying kinesiology, Poster found himself stressed and uninterested in the coursework.
He withdrew from the university, knowing he didn’t really want to be a physical therapist. Poster said at some point he’ll go back and finish a degree, but right now he is in the middle of working on some childhood dreams.
“Why not do it?” Poster said. “You’d hate yourself if you didn’t try something you set a goal for as a kid.”
Still in its infancy, Eleventh Floor Clothing primarily runs through an Instagram account. However, Poster’s brand is doing more than meets the eye.
“It’s more than clothes,” Poster said. “I want to inspire people to be creative … put their artwork out there.”
Poster started a project he calls, "Wall of Jackets." The project is a collaboration between the clothing line and Iowa artists. Poster provides jackets to artists, and the artists use the jackets to display their work. With no rules, they are free to express themselves, constrained only by the jacket itself. In the process, the jacket itself becomes a work of art.
Poster’s jacket concept was originally provoked by artist Blair Eivins in Waterloo.
“One of [Eivins'] paintings really sparked my interest,” Poster said. “I saw it and knew I really wanted his painting on a jacket.”
Still in its beginnings, Poster has gotten two jackets back with a third in the making. One jacket came from an artist here in Ames. Jordan Luckow, a full-time designer at Hy-Vee floral, graduated from Iowa State last year with a degree in fine arts.
“I sell a big piece maybe three or four times a year,” Luckow said. “And it could potentially be more if you put yourself in the right spot, but Ames is not the right spot for an artist to live.”
Ames has been home to Poster and Luckow for years now, and both describe the city with a tender fondness, yet, increasingly, they feel that something is missing.
“I think an art community is going to be really hard for Ames to establish and keep,” Luckow said. “It’s so four years in, four years out … there’s nothing to keep [students] here forever.”
With their time on campus coming to a conclusion, graduating artists may find themselves in an art purgatory.
“I feel pressure to get at least to Des Moines,” Poster said.
Efforts to engage the talent of recent graduates with the local economy are overshadowed by well-established art platforms of Des Moines.
“I want an art community that’s already established,” Luckow said. “In an art community … you want some stability because you’re an artist already, it’s not very stable.”
Eleventh Floor Clothing has emerged to showcase individuals committed to their art, filling a gap that art centers in the Ames community have somehow missed. Currently, Poster is awaiting on trademark approval before launching a website.
“With a website, I want to make galleries for people who want to show off their work,” Poster said.
Poster said he is taking his time, making sure everything goes smoothly. Hoping a local outlet will bring in artists of all levels, Eleventh Floor Clothing may provide an artist access to a larger network of viewers.
“Let it be seen,” Poster said. “And let them know someone appreciates their artwork.”